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Anybody who has spent any significant time on a computer knows what it is like to lose valuable data due to a failed hard drive or scratched/lost cd. The moment of acceptance that valuable data has been lost forever brings with it a determination to never again operate without a reliable backup. That moment also comes with an introduction to a whole new frustration with computers - how to actually backup one's data.

screamBacking up one's data can be a nightmare. The "Ntbackup" utility that comes with Windows XP (I've avoided Windows Vista like the swine flu) is certainly more versatile than Win98's laughable "briefcase" program, but it runs from a command line whose syntax bears this form:

ntbackup backup [systemstate] "@bks file name" /J {"job name"} [/P {"pool name"}] [/G {"guid name"}] [/T { "tape name"}] [/N {"media name"}] [/F {"file name"}] [/D {"set description"}] [/DS {"server name"}] [/IS {"server name"}] [/A] [/V:{yes|no}] [/R:{yes|no}] [/L:{f|s|n}] [/M {backup type}] [/RS:{yes|no}] [/HC:{on|off}] [/SNAP:{on|off}]

To be fair, the help area of XP does elaborate on the above, but let's keep perspective here. The need is to back data up - not get a degree in running Ntbackup. Even once you've come up with a complete and accurate command to run, I doubt you want to type it in every time you want to back your files up - not to mention any other commands you create for backing up other areas of your computer with info not in your main data area. I guess you could always put all your command lines in a batch file and run them all that way. What are batch files you ask? Yeah, let me tell you about something far more simple instead.

suresynclogoFor years I have been backing up my data by using the program "SureSync" by Software Pursuits. It is by far the best backup software of all that I have looked at and tried over the years. I like it for a number of reasons.

First of all, it's visual. I used to be one of those people who had all the command lines and options for software memorized. I even thought that people who liked the more visual "shell" options of programs were lazy. Well, I guess I'm lazy now because these days I just want to see with my eyes the files I am backing up and where they are backing up to. With SureSync I just navigate my file and/or network folders and set up relationships between where my data is and where I want it backed up to. I can even set up file filters so only files with certain things in common are backed up. Next, when I click the synchronize button SureSync gives me the option to preview what's going to happen or to just go for it right away.

Secondly, SureSync is not repetitive. By that I mean once I have my folder relationships and file filters established and working the way I want, I can save them and simply run them the next time I want to back up those files again. Even better yet, I can set SureSync to automatically run any or all back-up sets on a schedule.

I also like SureSync because it is good for more than just backing up. I use it to sync my laptop to my desktop computer. SureSync will look at the files in two locations and copy the newest file in either location over the older file on the other one. So if files "a" and "c" are newer on my laptop and files "b" and "f" are newer on my desktop, SureSync will copy "a" and "c" to the desktop computer and "b" and "f" to my laptop. I'll have the latest copy of all files in both places. SureSync is also smart enough to know when a file has been changed on both computers since the last backup and will ask you to chose or skip copying both files so no changes are lost in either. In fact, SureSync can even tell (if you want it to) when a file on one computer has been deleted and will remove it from the other computer.

Lastly, SureSync is incredibly versatile in the locations it will back up or synchronize files from and to. SureSync handles working with multiple folders on or across the same computer, network computers, USB hardrives, memory sticks, memory cards and internet storage space via FTP.

Simply put if it is your file and you have access to it, SureSync will allow you to simply back it up or synchronize it where and the way you want.

But don't take my word for it. Software Pursuits will let you try a fully functional install of SureSync for 30 days. Download it and you'll be amazed.

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